Why you should invest in self-improvement
Self-improvement has far more to it than working on the talents you have already acquired through this thing called life. It does, in fact, hold the very key to creating the ‘better life’ that the majority of us are chasing. We all dream of contentment, prosperity, more love in our lives and to achieve greater success and happiness, but why is it that not many of us are willing to invest our time, energy and resources into creating the fabulous life we deserve?
I’ve journeyed through life with my own studies, taken myself off to various therapy centres and experienced deep healing sessions, all beneficial to a point. However, in all honesty, it wasn’t until I slowed down and really looked within that I allowed myself to become connected with what I, Emily, really wanted in this life. I’ve since realised that I was actually chasing what I thought I should be looking for, when in fact it wasn’t really me, but somebody else’s dream all along.
The deeper my relationship with myself became, the more I could start to trust in and understand what I really believed in and wanted to achieve. By doing so, I found that I had no need to chase love, success and happiness.
So, if like many of my clients who come to me saying, “I’ve read self-help books and I’ve attended retreats, but I still feel like I have this huge fear of failure which is holding me back,” then you are in the right place.
You’re also not alone. The majority of ambitious and successful women have or will reach this point, and usually because they’ve been chasing the wrong perception of success and happiness for so many years.
Change your perception of success
I now refer to ‘self-improvement’ as ‘inner work’ as, ultimately, this is where it comes from. I have spent many years avoiding the parts of me I didn’t think I liked, or where I felt I would be judged. I also didn’t want to leave myself exposed, feel unsafe or reveal my deepest vulnerabilities. I am human after all; it’s natural to want to protect oneself and we are wired for survival.
Instead of self-love and conscious living, I realised that I spent a considerable amount of my time in a predominantly negative and self-destructive mindset. In fact, it is known that, on average, 80% of our thoughts are negative and, of this, 95% of our thoughts are repetitive. So, the majority of the time we are actually sending very negative thoughts to our ‘self’, rather than reaffirming a more positive mindset.
It’s little wonder we subconsciously become very apt at filling our time with distractions to numb the ongoing, critical self-talk within. By doing so, this actually restricts the development of our full potential – we begin to only want to feel in a safe space and thereby stay within our now built-in comfort zones. The problem we have here (other than being accountable for sitting on top of a whole lot of unused potential), is by keeping ourselves ‘safe’ and within this ‘negative state’, we then ignore and forget about the very many positive sides of life which brings us pure joy and contentment from within, our happiness, creativity and love. If we choose to stay within these limiting boundaries we ourselves have created, we become lost and overwhelmed within our own increasing levels of stress, akin to the fight-or-flight stress response and in our eyes, this now forms part of our identity.
I have worked with many women who have strived and worked very hard for success their whole lives, who believed winning and being the best was the greatest accomplishment and that in doing so would bring them the inner peace, happiness and fulfilment they were searching for.
It’s OK to ask for help
Many of us see life as a quest and feel that it is up to us to create and make our own happiness. Life can end up moving very fast in these cases and we can end up forgetting how to enjoy it and losing sight of enjoying the moment and what we have created around us.
Lots of us have considered or tried some or many self-help books/methods that are readily available to us, but most of us require more structure, accountability and personal support in order to succeed and gain the full benefits.
Many women, and men for that matter, can feel shame in asking for help. Whether the shame comes from a fear of being vulnerable, fear of disconnect or fear that they are being judged for ‘failing’, this deep-rooted feeling of shame is the very breeding ground which we have created within ourselves in order to protect us. What we need to understand is that by fearing judgment and vulnerability, we are blocking our personal path to wholehearted living and inner love and fulfilment.
This is something that I have found to be more evident with those that are high-achievers. Often, they have conditioned themselves as highly independent, successful women who are very competent and capable individuals and believe that they can figure out everything that comes their way (this is a mindset that has usually been conditioned by their early life attachments). However, it then becomes very difficult for them to ‘admit’ they are not managing, need help or are struggling in some way.
We can also start believing that we don’t have the time to focus on ourselves and create many rehearsed excuses for perceiving self-care, self-love and self-growth as a luxury for those who have the time and resources to use it. These are the same stories which have kept many of us stuck for so long.
This denial or self-conditioned shame in asking for help, although it may not be expressed or even acknowledged, shows itself in various different ways. It blocks our awareness to our true feelings and it hides itself away deep within the body, popping up in various different forms such as; physical/chronic pain, depressive moods/emotional problems of all levels, frustration, OCD behaviours, addiction, mental health issues. Essentially, it blocks our opportunity for personal growth and ultimately our happiness.
For me personally, I went into therapy blinded and expected someone else to solve my problems and essentially do the work for me. I didn’t realise or understand how deeply my emotional issues were affecting me, or what was driving it. I can absolutely empathise with why women feel as if they’ve got it under control, especially when their professional life is a success and their children are thriving, I’ve been there too.
It’s not until I began the process of becoming conscious and aware of how I was feeling and running my life and where these emotional ‘programmes’ were coming from, that I began to feel safe enough to allow my vulnerability to come out. I had to stop and slow down to enable my physical body to process everything and recover, which had happened whilst living life in the fast lane and in survival mode.
It’s taken me 10 years to speak about my journey through therapy as, for some years, I felt ashamed in admitting openly that I needed the help. I had felt somewhat broken and unworthy. I didn’t feel people would want to connect with me if they knew my story or knew I had reached a point where I was willing to let go of who I thought I would be in order to be who I really am.
Now I am past that stage, and clearly the bigger message to me lies within the journey itself.
Imagine bursting through the door to an interview for a promotion and instead of feeling powerful because you know your stuff and have spent the last week preparing, you feel powerful because you have passion behind it. You have a story to be proud of. You haven’t kept yourself in the predictable container that used to keep you safe. You’ve expanded your safety zone to explore new possibilities and new depths of your personality and identity, and your liberation shines through.
Life has meaning, and we are here to learn many things for ourselves, but how can we learn and develop if we don’t challenge ourselves?
We all have a choice
We always have a choice. When we bring this to awareness, we have a choice as to whether we want to live our lives using our accumulations of achievements, relationships and material things to continue to temporarily feel joy, or, we can step outside of the restrictions we have locked ourselves away in and give ourselves the freedom to work through what is showing up as challenges. Although this is painfully difficult, if we can see these blocks as an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding and connection with ourselves, we can begin to live a life with better personal communication, more intimacy and passion.
The difficulty, of course, is differentiating between what is real and what is not, what is yours and what is somebody else’s projection. The core of this article is to illustrate to you the power of using a coach or a therapist like myself, who can help you identify these barriers, or perhaps negative cycles you find yourself caught up in, and then put in place the steps and structure needed to realise your dreams. This can be a highly exhilarating experience as you watch obstacles disappear and your goals achieved.
Life is what we make of it and if you’re reading this, my guess is you are not a mediocre person. Why would you settle for what is beneath you and your passion for life, if you have a choice to do otherwise? By investing time, finances and resources into yourself to create the fabulous life you deserve, you are opening yourself up to unstoppable potential. You begin to let go of the story that restricts you and turn your life into the present moment. You have an opportunity to feel the depth of intimacy and passion throughout your life and model this very existence to your families and loved ones. It is your chance to live a life of freedom on your terms.
Authenticity is the willingness to let go of who we think we should be in order to be who we are, and, authenticity is not what we have been nurtured with – it is something for us to learn to connect with.
To me, self-improvement comes first. This is the willingness to put myself out there with no certain outcome and to let myself be seen, deeply. The practice of gratitude and joy flowing through everything I do. Once I stopped screaming at myself and started listening, I have never looked back.
If you believe that self-improvement is to be the next success in your life, it may well be worth you seeking professional support and guidance. Coaching offers you the opportunity to speak freely and without judgment while learning to leave your comfort zone and challenge yourself comfortably, but effectively. Use our search tool to find a coach near you and start your journey.
If you know that you need to slow down and take better care of your emotional, physical and spiritual self, but don’t know where to start, then I invite you to start your journey with me through the Adira 7-Step Programme. Visit Adira Lifestyle to learn more.